Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ten Years and Number One

Coventry Blaze celebrated ten years at the Skydome tonight with an emphatic 6-1 victory over bottom feeders Hull Stingrays. To mark the move from Solihull a decade ago His Worship the Lord Mayor of Coventry dropped a ceremonial puck on the ice, occupying a mayoral mat for this purpose.

Blaze stormed 3-0 ahead in the first period, prompting an unprecedented early timeout from the visitors. American ace Luke Fulghrum then achieved his hat trick in the second period. By the last period it was possible to bring on reserve net minder Tom Murdy. The ice was starting to cut up by then.

The same noisy group of supporters from Hull with their dancing queen were present as they were a fortnight ago. As Blaze fans chanted 'We are number one', they respomded 'We are number eight.'

League race is over - official

Hugh Town, St.Mary's, Isles of Scilly: Merryn Smith, host of Radio Scilly's sports show, reports that the Woolpack Wanderers beat the Garrison Gunners 4-1 at the Garrison Field this morning. There was some 'lovely football' apparently, but it means that the race for the championship title in the world's smallest football league is now officially over and it's all friendlies from now on (apart perhaps from the Wholesalers Cup). Merryn has gone off to the beach with one of his youngsters. It's a hard life.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Under the cosh against Tranmere

'Here we are in the last few minutes of the match under the cosh against Tranmere. How far have we fallen?' That was the comment of Paul, the Bloke Beside Me, as we stuttered to a 1-1 draw at home against the Wirral side.

Others have told me that the last two performances at Charlton had been awful, but I did not realise how awful until today's dispiriting performance. Here are some of the faults:

1. Over use of the long ball, instead of playing to feet
2. Lack of shape in the midfield and indeed in the team generally
3. Falling too often into the offside trap
4. Hesitating in promising positions
5. Too slow
6. Bailey always playing the ball to Sam, particularly across the pitch when there was an alternative outlet available nearby in the shape of the lively Reid
7. An excessive delay in replacing Elliot when he was injured which fortunately did not cost us
8. Mooney had one of the poorest games I have seen played by a forward in a Charlton shirt
9. Parky's substitutions were not well judged, especially taking off the lively Reid, a decision that was roundly booed
10. Overall a disjointed performance

In the first half we started quite well but our overall play showed a lack of urgency and too often casualness. It was clearly a concern when Elliot came off, although what worried me was that we were still playing balls back to the keeper (which we do too much anyway) when he was clearly injured. There was one moment of humour when John Welsh, having laid prone on the ground and earned Burton a yellow card, hobbled off the pitch. A wag in the East Stand shouted, 'Are you sure that's the right leg mate?' at which point Welsh smiled and acknowledged the comment, so there is still some humour in football. Mooney did have a couple of half chances, including a crisp cross put in by Reid, but did not make anything of them. I and those around me were relieved to get to half time with the score at 0-0.

The Bloke Beside Me predicted that as against Orient we would go behind in the 47th minute but he was a minute out as Tranmere went ahead in the 48th. It came from a corner, poorly defended as is often the case and Sodje put a bullet header into his own net.

We did wake up a bit and eventually Bailey got us level. Tranmere continued with a mixture of some threatening attacks and time wasting, for which their goalkeeper Luke Daniels eventually got a yellow card, but it was far too late. But there was always a danger that Tranmere would score again and towards the end of the game they hit the crossbar. Somehow this galvanised us and we had a storming last five minutes of the game with the ball going everywhere in front of the Tranmere goal except in it. Tripping expert Zoumana Bakayogo eventually got sent off in time added on for a second yellow card following another display of his artistry with the extended leg.

Why were we suddenly able to turn it on? To me this looks like a team whose always fragile confidence has been dented by recent setbacks and are particularly nervous playing at home. We did play reasonably well at Wycombe and hopefully three games away from the Valley crowd will help us to recover our form.

For those who compare the 4-0 win at Tranmere with the draw, I do think it is likely that they have got their act together since Barnes left as their recent form shows. Also, teams tend to raise their game when they play us.

This was a poor performance, but predictably there has been an over reaction as exemplified by chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' directed at Parky. With this team I thought at the beginning of the season that we would be somewhere between mid-table and the fringes of the play offs. We are third, six points ahead of the nearest side, Colchester lost yesterday and Swindow surrendered a 2-0 lead at Southend to draw. Whilst we are unlikely to get an automatic promotion place, we have every chance of being in the play offs.

Match analysis

Match analyst Ivy the Terrible presented a Silver Bone to a somewhat bemused Kyel Reid. Dismissed as 'crap' after ten minutes by one of the football experts behind me, Reid improved as the game went on and could have done more if the ball had been passed to him when he was unmarked rather than always pursuing our fixaton with passing to Sam. Admittedly one run down the left in the first half did end up with him tripping on the ball, but he had the right idea and as the game went on he put in increasingly good crosses. Having a natural left-winger in the side is an asset we must learn to make use of. Apparently he was withdrawn because of a calf strain. Elliot had relatively little to do until he was withdrawn with what appeared to be a lower back injury. Randolph was not at fault for the goal and made two good saves later in the game. Dailly was solid and dealt with one potentially dangerous situation exceptionally well. Sodje did not have a good game, even leaving aside the own goal. As Steve from Petts Wood remarked, he needs to take a chill pill as he nearly got into an ugly confrontation with a charm merchant from Birkenhead. Basey in my view is both slow and lacks an intelligent football brain, but I would give him credit for playing to the best of his limited abilities.
Richardson was one of the better players on the pitch and his runs forward at least offered the possibility of creating something. Semedo had a terrible game. In my view the defensive midfield position is one of the most important on the pitch. He started the season well, but has never been the same since his injury. One Addick counted how many passes forward he made in the first half and it was just four. Bailey did score the goal, but he had a poor game. His frustration showed when he managed to kick one pass to him into touch. Even at the end of the game he was having a discussion with the referee who was reasonably good. Sam had a poor game, there just seems to be a lack of commitment at times. Mooney was a disaster. When the substitution boards went up, he started to run off and well he might. There also seems to be no working relationship between him and Burton. Burton suffered from repeated unpenalised pushes in the back in the first half but, as Killer pointed out in the programme, he is never going to score that many goals in a season. For once the Bloke Behind Me made a sensible footballing comment in relation to McKenzie: 'What's he for? Is he a left winger or a forward?' For Wagstaff it was the best of times and the worst of times. He took a while to settle in, but made some good runs down the wing and won a potentially valuable free kick at the end of the game. But he also put one ball out of play instead of crossing it and wasted others.

Hiss of the Match: Juneau the Soccer Cat awarded this to South-Eastern Trains as they delayed our return and her evening meal. In fact even the Chiltern train from High Wycombe was overcrowded as was the Bakerloo as ever (to the lady who complained about 'football fans' I would point out that they have as much right to travel as anyone else). Coming back South-Eastern cancelled a whole series of trains and as usual there was limited information.

Crowd rating We have a crowd that waits for the team to lift it, rather than a crowd that lifts the team. We have no divine right to success because we are a relatively big club. After the experience with South-Eastern Trains, sometimes I wonder if the experience of commuting on poor train services drains Charlton fans so that they are in a bad mood by the end of the week. When I lived in Essex and I saw tired commuters coming off trains I vowed that never work in London or have a long commute to work.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Addicks swoop for Reid

Charlton have signed West Ham academy product and Sheffield United winger Kyle Reid on loan for the rest of the season. The most recent information I have is that he is the much needed left-winger.

He has had quite a few loan spells in his career and has been warming the bench at the Blades this season.

It all went off big time at his 21st birthday celebrations.

All is not lost

When I last saw the team play at Wycombe, they put in a workmanlike 'job done' performance. The consensus on the two following home games seems to be that we were awful. I am therefore 'looking forward' to tomorrow to see how just bad we are.

Wisely, Parky has not hit the panic button. Sodje will certainly come in for the hapless Llera which means that we will move above the level of agricultural clearances of an uncertain direction from defence. If Sodje can keep his cool, he is a real asset to the team.

There is also a real possibility that his brother may return, although apparently the discussions with the Owls are complicated. I think that he adds a physical presence to the team which can be useful.

Although Mooney had a poor game on Monday, I would keep faith with him tomorrow, despite the suggestions by the commentators on Monday that there was some personal tension between him and Burton.

I think that Parky made a mistake in taking Burton off on Monday. It all smacked of a desperate last throw of the dice. I hope that people have at last got the message that Dickson is not the answer. Before he came to us he was playing at the third level of the non-league, the same level as Leamington. Sgt. Mark Bellingham bangs them in the cells during the week and bangs them in the goal when he is off duty, but I wouldn't sign him at Charlton.

My general view is that we only have a few players who are of real promotion challenging quality and in any one match some of those are injured (Youga is a real and continuing loss) and others don't turn up on the night (Bailey's petulance on Monday). Sam gets a lot of stick, but he is often double marked which should open up space we can take advantage of elsewhere.

I am far from convinced that the experiment with Shelvey wandering lonely as a cloud is generally working and I think we expect too much of the still developing youngster. Think Andy Murray a few years ago. Whether replacing him with the showboater Racon is the answer is a moot point, but, as other bloggers have argued, we need to start with Bailey out left. At least he stays there. Wagtsaff is still too much of a work in progress to start.

The footballing omens this week have not been good. My meeting with Kentish Man at Charing Cross on Wednesday evening was awkward as, having suggested the rendez vous so he could come straight off a train from his Kent village, he then complained it was 'too close to home' (i.e., Charlton) and we might be spotted by an Addick. I don't think we were, as we secreted ourselves in a nearby bar, but all I got out of it was a bill for his train fare.

Last night I was dining at All Souls and found myself sitting for dessert next to a specialist on 14th century music from Amsterdam University. I don't know anything about 14th century music, so given that I am writing a book with someone from Amsterdam on European football, I turned the conversation to that and my enjoyment of the superb port was disturbed by a diatribe about football hooligans.

I haven't checked the tide tables for Deptford Creek, but I am confident that the Addicks will turn things around tomorrow and win 2-0 (Mooney, Sodje). We are a League 1 team playing League 1 football, but I think we are capable of beating Tranmere at home.

Jordan may have to stay involved at Palace

Some interesting coverage of the situation at Palace here: Orange One

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Desperate Mariners bring in Sinclair

They haven't won in 17 games and are second from bottom in League 2: now Grimsby has found a possible lifeline with the signing of Dean Sinclair on loan for the rest of the season. Perhaps it will be a thank to you for the former second tier side who gave us Sir Clive Mendonca.

All we wait for now is news of a loan for Moutaoukil.

Mooney here for the duration

The Addicks have completed the capture of David Mooney until the end of the season. The striker joined the Addicks on a temporary basis from Reading in October and his loan agreement was extended earlier this month, an arrangement that was due to run out in the middle of February.

However, Mooney will now stay at The Valley until the summer [including the play offs?] after a deal was reached this morning.

'Dave is staying until the end of the season,' Charlton supremo Phil Parkinson told the South London Press. 'He's enjoyed being here and he's done well here. Now he can concentrate on playing and scoring goals for us.'

I was initially impressed with Mooney, especially his pace and commitment, and it looked as if he could finish, but his most recent games have been poor. However, I understand that he is to receive special instruction on the offside rule and a barn door used by some earlier Charlton strikers in training has been brought out of store at Sparrows Lane.

Mooney or McKenzie to start against Tranmere? Discuss.

Noades offers to return to Palace

It could be Noadistan again at Crystal Palace as the former supremo offers to return to help the troubled club. Noades manages to get in a swipe at Charlton as a smaller club: Noades

If attendances are one criterion of 'bigness', we have been doing better at The Valley.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Cayman Islands company put boot in at Palace

Apparently it was a Cayman Islands company from whom the Orange One had borrowed £5m who pull the rug from under Palace: Palace . A fire sale of players is now predicted, but they will have to get a move on.

Apparently Palace players were told the news by Twitter: Tweet

If this happened at Millwall, would carrier pidgeons be used? Perhaps Charlton would dispatch a fleet of blokes on push bikes.

A wide open promotion race

No one can say that this year's League 1 promotion contest is boring. Having gone behind at Walsall last night, Norwich won 2-1 to stay top with 60 points but one more game played than the Addicks. (I got it large from the Norwich fan down the corridor yesterday). Leeds, with one game in hand, are second on 57 points and have a game in hand over us, but are faltering badly, going down 3-0 at Swindon. Then come the Addicks on 54 points.

Colchester beat the MK Dons 2-0, Super Kevin Lisbie scoring the opening goal and then, typically, missing a penalty. They are five points behind us and two points behind them are in form Swindon whom we visit soon at the County Ground. The last play off place is taken by a New Cross team.

Would that my grandmother was alive to advise me on the possible permutations. Let me explain. Let's go back to the late 1920s or the early 1930s at my grandparents' then home in Plum Lane, Plumstead Common. It's a Saturday and at lunchtime my grandfather has come home from his job as a clerk of works at Woolwich Arsenal. He gets to work on an interior decoration scheme for the cinema at Welling (undertaking such work helped to supplement his income and paid for my mother's apprenticeship as a hairdresser).

My mother is hard at work in the hairdressers in The Hollow, accompanied by her two close friends who are also Addicks and who are to survive into their nineties (which my mother just missed). Nor can my future uncle be at the game: he has left his home in Plum Lane early in the morning to work at his father's newsagents in Lakedale Road.

But some of the young men have been to The Valley and they come back to Plum Lane where my granfather runs an open house. He pops his head out of the room where hs is working: 'Don't worry about me, make as much noise as you like.' The young men and women head for the kitchen to hear about the match and my grandmother makes snacks.

My grandmother was a true Victorian, born in 1870, but by the time I know her she has developed a keen interest in football, admittedly partly based on 'doing the pools' (and also having the odd flutter on the gee gees). Each Friday my mother brings back to Cheriton Drive a week's supply of the Daily Mirror from the newsagents run by my uncle and aunt, accompanied by the Racing and Football Outlook.

These are subject to an intense study by my grandmother (who I now realise did this in part as a means of maintaining mental alertness). In these days it was two up and down promotion which meant only one from the third division north and south. Her basic methodology once Christmas had passed was to identify the 'surprise package': the lower mid-table team that would suddenly find itself in a relegation battle or the upper mid-table team that would suddenly be in contention for promotion. In the days before calculators, this involved a lot of arithmetic as projections into the future were made, accompanied by consultation of the News of the World football annual for past precedents. She would then consult me about her findings.

I guess that what she would say about this year's promotion race in League 1 was that nothing would be certain until Easter, that Norwich might not remain invincible, that Leeds would falter, that Charlton would still have a chance if they could regain that form and that we should watch out for Swindon. Our season is by no means over.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Glaziers in administration

Crystal Palace had gone into administration.

The resultant ten point penalty will derail their promotion bid but will not place them actually in the relegation zone, although 20th is not far off - but presumably a recoverable position with Dazza.

The administrators are seeking purchasers for the club described as 'Bespoke football club with ground with scope for improvement in anonymous urban area of South London. Orange wallpaper throughout. Shopping facilities available on site.'

BTW, anyone sees me at Charing Cross station tomorrow night in a coffee bar, I will be speaking to an important Kentish man. Normally I would like to greet fellow Addicks, but not this once.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Addicks lose undefeated home record

Charlton fielded an unchanged side against Leyton Orient this evening, but Racon was back on the bench reports Philippa Nicholson from a very cold Valley. Neither side made a decisive impact in the early exchanges, although Charlton had more of the play.

Richardson made a good run down the right, but Daniels intervened. Orient threatened and Basey had to head behind to give the visitors the first corner of the evening. McGleish's final contact went out of play for a goal kick. Subsequently, the 35-year old former Addick required treatment.

An effort from Shelvey went well over. Bailey claimed that he had grounds for a penalty, but the referee John Moss, who refereed the Gillingham game, was having none of it and was probably right. Orient advanced well, but Bailey blocked. The counter attack ended in an offside.

Orient won their second corner, but it was gathered by Elliot. With neither side creating anything in front of goal, some Charlton fans started to become frustrated.

Sam put in a good cross, having dealt with Daniels, and Mooney should have done better when he headed over. McGleish advanced well and put in a shot that went just wide as Elliot dived. Mooney was flagged offside yet again.

Llera tugged at Jarvis and received a yellow card and a talking to from Bailey. Orient won a free kick just to the right of the 'D'. The effort by Daniels went over the wall and over the bar.

Lloyd Sam's shot was going well wide, but led to a corner which was gathered by Jones in the Orient goal.

Orient won a third corner, but Elliot dealt with it well. One minute of time was added on. Burton went for goal and it was cleared off the line when Shelvey was in a great position for a tap in. Shelvey was upset and the two players had an exchange of views as they went off with substitute McKenzie acting as peacemaker. Phil Parkinson did not look like a happy bunny as he headed down the tunnel.

It was far from the most exciting 45 minutes I had seen with Daniels shutting down Sam.

Addicks 0, Orient 0

Sam used his pace to turn provider for Mooney and Jones had to made a fingertip save to deny him. Orient were able to clear from the corner.

Scott McGleish made use of a curving ball on to his head from Thornton to put Orient ahead after three minutes, after Bailey had gone to ground in the build up holding his head. It would appear that an elbow went into Bailey's face.

Shelvey won a corner. Basey's effort led to a free kick for Orient for handball.

Orient attacked again, Jarvis was given too much space and only the post denied a second goal for the visitors. Jarvis threatened again, Llera headed away but conceded a corner which was defended well. Charlton counter attacked, a cross from Richardson led to a downward header with no power from Mooney.

As the hour was reached, Wagstaff came on to replace Semedo. Good work by Sam won Charlton a corner. Burton's header was easily gathered by Jones. Wagstaff advanced well, but Mooney's header was poor. Shelvey was given a talking to by the referee.

Richardson fed Mooney well, but he put his effort well wide as his nightmare evening continued. Mooney and Burton came off for McKenzie and Dickson as Parky made two attacking substitutions.

McGleish came off and was replaced by French striker Tehoue who immediately put Dailly under pressure. Llera sliced the ball and conceded an avoidable corner. Wagstaff was hauled down by Chambers and received a yellow card.

Tehoue put in a shot that was not far wide. A good run by Sam led to a cross and a corner for Charlton. Richardson put in a good throw in, but Llera's effort was wide.

Basey went in on Adams and earned a yellow card. Llera went in hard at Tehoue. Llera then gave away another free kick. An Orient free kick went just wide.

Four minutes of time were added on. It was desperate stuff and boos were heard.

Charlton lost at home to Orient for the first time in thirty years and lost at home for the first time since March.

Curbs asked to put his money back in West Ham

West Ham supremo David Sullivan has suggested that Alan Curbishley should put the money he is owed into the club: Curbs

I suppose you've got to admire his nerve.

Defeat in front of the Sky TV cameras

Last night I saw the top-uf-the-table Elite League ice hockey clash between Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers (you can see it on Sky on Friday). Whoever won would go top and the Panthers were deserved victors at 3-1. They were just faster to the puck, quicker on the counter attack, better at keeping possession and more solid in defence than Blaze.

Sound a bit like Charlton? I might add that Nottingham are the Manchester United of British ice hockey with their big rink and large following (4,500 at home games).

Incidentally, the game ended with the fight of all fights right in front of us which included a di Canio style shove on one of the officials; a blazing row all round the rink between the player and the lino; and the rare award of a penalty for 'abusing an official' on the Panther responsible.

I stayed behind rinkside afterwards and it was interesting to observe the mood of he crowd: subdued, disappointed, upset, even frustrated, but not angry. And believe me, for some of these people ice hockey is their sporting life, no great surprise when you learn that some of them are former Sky Blues fans.

There was quite a contrast with the febrile atmosphere at The Valley despite the team exceeding my expectations this season and still being in contention for automatic promotion.

Of course, the British love to whinge. I have never noticed the same level of complaining at baseball matches in the States or rules matches in Australia. They like to complain about the weather, the government, their boss, their relatives, South Eastern trains (with good reason in that case) and above all their own football team.

I listened to the Hartlepool match and it sounded like quite a good performance which was confirmed by the BBC report. Yet the very firm consensus of those who were there was that Charlton were awful despite winning. I suspect that part of the story is that Hartlepool's young side played well above their usual standard, motivated by the fact that they had nothing to lose but might gain a 'scalp' from the big club.

This is League 1 and we are a League 1 team. We have very few really talented players (ones that other clubs might pay a significant sum to buy) and two of them are very inconsistent within a game (Sam and Shelvey). Bailey is my candidate for player of the year, but he cannot run the whole game or compensate for the deficiencies of other players.

I also think that the margin between teams in this league, although it certainly exists, is not so big that any team cannot be defeated by any other team. We did the double over Hartlepool and Wycombe, but it wasn't easy in either case.

No doubt Sky will try and big this up as a local derby and it is a short trip through the Blackwall Tunnel for Orient. But I can't say that I have ever thought of Orient as major rivals. We have never been in a division together for all that long.

Orient have undergone some strengthening through loans and Scott McGleish is a player who knows how to operate at this level and may relish a goal at the club where his involvement was limited to cameos as a late substitute.

Although a 1-1 is not an impossible outcome, I think that we probably have enough in the locker to beat Orient. The television cameras used to be a bit of a bogey for us, but not for some time. Incidentally, the £30,000 fee we will receive is not great compensation for the loss of 'walk up' sales on a cold winter's night.

Philppa Nicholson will be leaving chambers earlier than usual (I nearly said 'drop her briefs') to get to the game. The legal eagle will bring the zest and confidence to her report that she deploys in court, in so far as one can on obscure commercial cases.

Talking of the law, Norwich have emphatically denied that they are in any danger of going into administration and have indicated that they will issue legal proceedings against the Sunday newspaper that made such a claim.

Leeds have now decided to concentrate on the cups (they still have to go to Carlisle in the JPT) and are showing signs of faltering in the league, but with Norwich they must be (and are) odds on favourites for automatic promotion. BTW, Northwich Victoria's win over us did them no good as it looks as if they are going to be relegated again for failing to pay football debts.

If you are going, enjoy the game and wrap up warm.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

League is still an open contest

Hugh Town, St.Mary's, Isles of Scilly: Radio Scilly sports show host and helicopter supremo Merryn Smith reports on a dramatic end to today's Isles of Scilly league contest at the Garrison Field. In time added on, Garrison Gunners managed to score to win 5-4. If the Woolpack Wanderers had won today, they would have won the championship of the world's smallest football league.

Some people think that our sports show on Friday was the best yet - well, Merryn's wife does and presenter Steve Watt who is in charge of the station while Keri Jones takes a holiday in Montserrat. Green Army fanatic Watt has, however, ruled that there must be 'no Charlton content' on the show. We shall see.

Murray speaks out on financial woes

Interesting interview with Richard Murray on Charlton's financial woes and the wider financial problems of football: Murray

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Brakes Need Oiling

After six weeks without a game, and eight weeks without a home match at the New Windmill Ground, Brakes looked rusty this afternoon against Swindon Supermarine, many of whose players had at one time featured for Swindon at some level. Fortunately they were able to ride their luck and emerge as 3-1 winners.

Supermarine went 1-0 ahead after 8 minutes with an own goal which deflected in off the post leaving Chris Kiely with no chance. However, Brakes equalised three minutes later through the goal machine that is Mark Bellingham. Then a minute before the end of the half former Reading ace Guy Sanders ran to the crowd after he made it 2-1.

Brakes were under the cosh in the second half. They seemed unable to clear their lines or keep possession. A frisson ran through the crowd on 59 minutes when Mark Barnes was taken off in favour of former Fairford Town star, the one and only Ashley Edenborough. Attack after attack came from the visitors with the ball cleared off the line by a defender and hitting the crossbar. Stuart Herlihy replaced Richard Batchelor on 78 minutes.

Somehow or other Brakes managed to hang on and then in 91 minutes Luke Corbett put the game beyond doubt with a third goal. Corbett had earlier been rebuked by the young but effective referee with a shout of 'You're getting on my nerves, No.10'. There was still time for two late Brakes substitutions in the considerable amount of time added on.

I wasn't greatly impressed by the new signings, particularly Peter Faulds: given his Stratford connections, is he the son of former MP and Shakespearean actor Andrew Faulds? For me the stars of the show were Bello and Jacko, although the latter picked up a yellow card and at times looked in danger of being sent off. Kiely was also more assured in goal than usual.

Still, three points is three points, but there will have to be some sorting out before Brakes go to Chippenham on Tuesday.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Kiely back between the sticks for Swindon

Chris Kiely has been recalled from Halesowen Town for tomorrow's clash between Leamington and Swindon Supermarine, the No.2 club in the Wiltshire metropolis. In last week's astroturf friendly with Southam United, regular keeper Tony Breeden slipped and fell on the concrete in the warm up sustaining a hairline fracture of the lower arm.

Rather than rely on the North Leamington school pupil who is the reserve keeper (and sponsored by me), supremo Paul Holleran has turned to Deano's son. Holleran said, 'I know he's a competent keeper ... He's looked bubbly in training and I have no qualms about playing him.'

Once again we will be the only Charlton blog bringing you a report on tomorrow's action at the New Windmill Ground with Brakes back in action for the first time in over a month.

Glaziers owe Charlton £100,000

The South London Press (available at a newsagent near you) has learned that Charlton officials are "furious" that they have not yet received £100,000 owed to them as part of the transfer that saw Paddy McCarthy swap The Valley for Selhurst Park in 2008.

The instalment was due in December but cash-strapped Palace have not yet handed over the money, leaving Charlton - themselves needing readies - short of cash. Charlton reported Palace to the Football League earlier this month and this week lodged a complaint as the matter has still not been resolved.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pardew to swoop for Lisbie?

Alan Pardew may be poised to add Super Kevin Lisbie to his Saints squad: Lisbie . The comments are quite interesting.

Alan Pardew was able to take the measure of Lisbie at The Valley. For me he was one of the most infuriating Charlton players of recent years: capable of scoring brilliant goals (three of them against Liverpool) when he was then inevitably lauded by the media as a 'teenage striker' and then missing sitters from six yards out, hence the nickname 'Missbie'.

I once brought a Canadian friend to The Valley. We were not sitting in our usual seats, Lisbie missed from a few yards out and the bloke beside my friend turned to him and said, 'How much do I pay that guy?'

I think Lisbie can do well at the League 1 level, although he still misses sitters as he did for Colchester against us. One Addick has commented that it would be good for us as it would dent Colchester's season.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

There's only one Mark Kinsella

Atmospheric piece on Mark Kinsella from Bloomberg (whom I know as a financial wire sevice):

DOWN at their New Eltham training base the Charlton Athletic players are filtering out into the car park after their Thursday morning session. The troublesome snow has left all but one pitch unplayable, the staff working overtime to ensure another day wouldn't be gone to waste.

Yet as the players say their goodbyes and jump into their cars, one figure remains ut on the sod, taking pot shots at goal. Mark Kinsella's playing days may now be behind him but the passion remains as strong as ever.

It's been just over a year since the Dubliner returned to coaching the Charlton first team, having been put in charge of the reserves during Alan Pardew's ill-fated spell at the club, and he is loving every minute.

"You want to be involved on the Saturday; it's something I've missed," admits Kinsella, who made 208 appearances for the club. "Coaching is a bit different to playing but it's the next best thing. When you've played football all your life you want to stay in and around the game. I had a successful time here as a player and hopefully I can do the same as a coach." It's been a case of so far so good.

Following relegation from the Championship last season the Addicks are well-placed for an immediate return, vying with Leeds United and Norwich City for the two automatic promotion places. In England's third tier for the first time in 30 years, Charlton are keen to ensure their stay is a short one. It's less than three years since the club was plying its trade in the Premier League, which underlines how quickly fortunes can change in football.

For someone who cares so passionately about the club it was a difficult time for Kinsella, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"People were expecting more doom and gloom," he said. "But we went to Waterford for a few days pre-season training, and when we saw the atmosphere and team spirit on that trip it gave us an inkling that if we could get the season off to a good start we could carry it on.

"We worked very hard to get into the Premier League. So for us to get relegated twice in three seasons was very tough; it was a real kick in the teeth. But sometimes you've got to take three steps back before you can go forward again.

"We want to get out of this division at the first time of asking. The first-half of the season has been a success; I think the fans will be happy with where we're placed in the table. We're in a good position in the league; now we've got to try and push ourselves over the line."

Kinsella is pushing himself just as much as he did when he was calling the shots round the middle of the park. The 37-year-old is currently doing his UEFA 'A' Licence, which he hopes to finish inside the next year. Then it's straight onto the Pro Licence.

It means a heavy workload, which keeps him away from his family and Midlands home more than he would like. But he accepts that it comes with the territory. "It is time consuming. I try and get out and watch games midweek so we can figure out game plans for future opposition, while also trying to get home and see the kids. It can be difficult but it's part and parcel of being a coach. It's all about getting the three points at the end of the week."

It was that sort of commitment and drive that saw Kinsella become a fans' favourite with both Charlton and Ireland in his playing days. He started in the lower leagues but he went on to compete at the very highest level, and holds the World Cup in 2002 as the pinnacle of his career. Which is why he empathises so much with the current squad following Thierry Henry's 'Hand of Gaul'.

He's already starting to sound like a manager, and Kinsella admits that down the line he does fancy taking the next step up. He's in no hurry yet though. "I do see management in the future; I'd like to have a crack at it. I don't think anyone would want to retire from the game without giving management a go. But for the time being I'm very happy with what I'm currently doing. As a player I started in non-league football and worked my way up and I plan on doing the very same in coaching."

There'll be plenty more late afternoons spent on the training ground yet; the playing days may be over but in terms of coaching, he's only getting started.

Semedo is staying insists Parky

Phil Parkinson has insisted that he has no knowledge of rumours that Millwall hater Semedo is going to Bristol City, while conspiracy theorists who drew attention to Racon's absence from the bench last night now have their answer: he has gone to France because of a family bereavement. More here: Rumours

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Wonder goal from Wagstaff

A start for Frazer Richardson was the only change made by Phil Parkinson in the line up for the match against Hartlepool reports Philippa Nicholson from The Valley. Parky called for a professional approach to the game in the programme. There were about sixty or seventy away fans in the Jimmy Seed Stand on a chilly night with a cold wind.

Charlton started well and won a corner within the first minute, unsettling the youthful Hartlepool side. Basey's corner was well taken, but did not lead to anything. Hartlepool staged their first attack of the game which did momentarily pose a threat with Basey not coping too well.

Semedo broke up another Hartlepool attack following a free kick. Sweeney threatened, the Addicks launched a counter attack, but Burton's long range effort was easily gathered by former Glazier Scott Flinders in the visitors' goal. It was a lively start from both teams.

Dailly unusually put in a poor pass, but Charlton recovered through Bailey. Hartlepool had settled down and were clearly not there to make up the numbers. Charlton won a second corner after a cross from Richardson was deflected. Flinders claimed the ball well after Burton had headed it into the air under pressure.

Llera put in a good long ball, Mooney headed down well, Burton hesitated and the ball went behind for a corner taken again by Basey. Burton jumped too early and the ball went behind for a goal kick.

Elliot comfortably gathered a cross from Monkhouse. Sam evaded Monkhouse but Shelvey's cross went out of play after Hartlepool had been opened up. Richardson half cleared a Hartlepool free kick and further pressure was applied by the visitors.
Llera had to clear away a cross with Larkin behind him giving Hartlepool their first corner. The corner was not taken well, but the ball came back in and Llera made a complete mess of the clearance. Fortunately, Dailly was fouled, giving the Addicks a free kick. The Charlton defence was at panic stations, an all too familiar scenario.

Basey fed Burton but the striker's touch was poor and the ball went out for a throw in. Richardson tried to turn provider for Burton whose position was good but he headed wide. Elliot claimed well under pressure following a Hartlepool free kick.
Sam lost control of the ball to the despair of the Addickted.

Parky was trying to get the Addicks to calm down and take the pace out of the game. The midfield did not seem to be at its best. Word came through that Leeds had gone behind at home to Carlisle in the JPT. Charlton did not deal well with a clearance, but won a free kick.

Charlton did threaten for a moment, but the visitors were able to clear. Sam burst into the penalty area, but his effort and a follow up by Mooney were blocked. Sam evaded two players, Shelvey rose and his effort went over the crossbar.

Hartlepool had a go but Elliot caught the ball well. Bailey took a free kick quickly and the opportunity was wasted. The ball was whipped in well from the left by Basey and with half an hour played Mooney put the ball into the net to make it 1-0 with an excellent finish. The goal came just as the Addickted were started to get frustrated. The referee went over to the bench to rebuke Kinsella for encroachment and he withdrew from the technical area to the bench.

Hartlepool threatened, but Basey saw the danger and put the ball out for a throw. The visitors had their best chance, but Elliot was able to gather the shot from Humphreys. Larkin threatened but Basey challenged well in the box. Another effort from Humphreys went well over the crossbar.

Charlton won their fourth corner, it came in high and Burton's effort led to a goal kick. The referee, Mr Tanner, had a word with Shelvey. The game had quietened down somewhat. Charlton won a free kick on the wing after Semedo was fouled, but Basey's effort was headed away. Hartlepool made a late attack, Richardson dealt with it well after Elliot hesitated and Nicky Bailey needed some treatment after a tackle from behind which the referee did not see.

One minute of time was added on. A very long throw came in and in the subsequent play Bailey was the subject of a rough challenge and Behan was booked.

Half time: Charlton Athletic 1, Hartlepool United 0

Basey headed away as the ball came into the penalty area. Dailly took Sweeney's legs from under him and the visitors were given a penalty. The ball from Behan hit Elliot in front of the Hartlepool fans and the ball went up into the roof of the net and just in.

Charlton tried to respond with some good play as the visitors got everyone back behind the ball. Sam was pulled down by Liddle, but the referee saw nothing wrong. Sam won a corner for Charlton. Flinders punched the ball out from Basey's corner and Hartlepool tried to counter attack. Mooney advanced, using a long pass from Dailly, but was unable to make contact.

The Addickted were starting to show their frustration, particularly with Shelvey. Llera sent a ball high into the air. Basey gave the ball away to Monkhouse. Shelvey tried from 25 yards out and hit the outside of the post.

Burton put in a scrambled effort which went just wide of the post and Shelvey could not connect. The pace was frenetic. Mooney with his back to goal shot over the top. Charlton won a free kick 25 yards out after Burton was pushed, but Basey's effort led to nothing.

Bailey burst into the penalty area but Flinders gathered well. A late challenge by Collins on David Mooney led to a yellow card. Shelvey was taken off in favour of McKenzie. Immediately after coming on, he won a free kick. Sam put in a good cross, Bailey tried a snap shot which looked as if it might head for the top corner but it went inches wide.

Mooney's first touch was poor and Flinders was able to gather. Flinders managed to defend an effort from Sam at the expense of a corner. Sam was taken off and Dickson came on. Mooney was replaced by Wagstaff. Basey's corner was punched away. Hartlepool won an offside decision with a late flag which angered the nearby Addickted.

Behan was replaced by Boyd for Hartlepool. The departing striker took his time in leaving the pitch. Hartlepool were start to time waste and the referee needed to get a grip. Wagstaff shot from 25 yards and the super sub scored. What a brilliant strike into the top corner!

Humphreys was taken off and replaced by Jones for the visitors. Charlton were keeping possesion well and put in some nice passes with Semedo looking impressive. The flag went up against Dickson. Charlton won another corner through great work by Wagstaff.

Richardson did well to deal with Boyd. Gamble was booked for a clumsy challenge on Semedo. Dickson headed in but the goal was ruled out for a push, a young man came on to the pitch with very limited clothing and he was rugby tackled by Collins.

Five minutes were added on. Wagstaff advanced down the right, but his cross was claimed by Flinders. Hartlepool advanced, Llera blocked the shot, then Bailey blocked an effort. A long ball was put in by Elliot, the clearance from Flinders was pounced on by Dickson, but his effort was wide.

Hartlepool attacked again, Llera cleared, Wagstaff was knocked to the ground and Charlton were awarded a free kick. The whistle blew and Charlton collected three points that put them level with Norwich City on points but behind on goal difference.

It's done deal at Upton Park

A deal from David Gold and David Sullivan to take over West Ham is about to be announced so that particular lifeline for Charlton has disappeared. Some fans had reservations about them anyway on various grounds. It looks as if we shall just have to soldier on making the best use we can of our own resources and hoping we can get promoted. If we do go up through the play offs, at least it will generate some extra revenue.

Turning to tonight's game it's another one I shall have to miss, as I can't really leave work in time to get to the ground and then I have the problem of getting back. I was hoping that League 1 would mean more Saturday games, but the Leyton Orient game has also been rescheduled, although at least that will give us some much needed Sky TV revenue. Legal eagle Philippa Nicholson will be covering tonight's game.

I am confident that we can beat Hartlepool tonight. Nevertheless, a note of cuation is necessary. On Sunday I saw top team Coventry Blaze struggle to beat bottom team Hull Stingrays (and they are bottom feeders for a reason) in the Elite ice hockey league. With nothing to lose, the Stingrays were playing out of their skins and the pressure was on Blaze to hang on to their narrow lead at the top of the league over Nottingham Panthers who are the big boys of British ice hockey with their huge rink and big crowds. Hartlepool tonight will want to overcome the memory of a 0-5 home drubbing last Saturday.

I would expect Parky to start with much the same team on Saturday, except that Frazer Richardson will start to give some oomph that is not provided by the adequate Omozusi. Unfortunately, it looks as if we will still be without Kelly Youga and Grant Basey is simply not of the same class and indeed can be error prone (more so than Youga).

Mooney did not look at his sharpest on Saturday and might have scored a couple of times but didn't, but he was returning from injury. On reflection, I think that McKenzie probably played better when he came on than I had first thought. Burton was a bit subdued.

However, the real star of the game was Nicky Bailey who is showing real maturity in the captain's role. Parky has made it clear that he is staying at The Valley, dashing the hopes of 'Boro fans who thought that he was a good prospect with the bonus of ginger hair that would complement that of their new manager.

Apparently some fans do not realise that the game is being played tonight, but if you are going, enjoy the game!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Addicks announce season ticket deal

Charlton has announced its season-ticket plans for 2010/11. Prices for the next campaign are being frozen at current rates until March 31st, regardless of whether the team wins promotion back to the Championship later in the spring.

What's more, up to 500 supporters can put increases on ice until 2015 by signing up for a five-year season ticket based on five times the League One prices. [For some of us this involves a delicate actuarial calculation].

Charlton plc chairman Richard Murray explained: 'It's a measure of the loyalty of Charlton supporters that we have retained nearly 10,500 season-ticket holders in very difficult circumstances, and the board is very grateful for that support. We are still seeking external investment, but the club now needs to plan its finances for next year and we may not know what division we will be playing in until May, so getting season-ticket revenue in early is important to us.'

This would suggest that, not surprisingly, the club faces continuing cash flow challenges. Should the club ever become insolvent in the future, holders of five year tickets could become creditors of the club.

Season tickets will initially go on sale at 2009/10 prices from early February until the end of March.

Championship one game away as Hicks scores again

Having rebuked Merryn Smith for not producing a report on yesterday's clash in the Isles of Scilly, I have got hoist with my own petard as he has produced a very lengthy and detailed report. I have edited it down somewhat:

In stark contrast to last weeks bitter conditions, Sunday 17th January saw blue skies and sunshine envelope the islands and the gentlest of breezes.

The Gunners won the toss and elected to play downhill. Within 6 minutes of the start, Adam Kyne made a huge run up the right, following the long ball through, pitched in a superb cross which Dangerous Darren Hicks deftly headed into the net to give the Wanderers an early one goal lead. It also secured his record of having scored in EVERY league match of this season.

Then, bang on the 30 minute mark a hotly disputed penalty was awarded to the Gunners. With their captain, Russell Hutchins out for several weeks with a broken ankle, it was down to their leading scorer, Eddie Williams to step up to the spot. The shot beat the keeper, but rattled off the left post and was tucked away safely for a corner.

The second half opened in frantic style. After 10 mins, Chris Evans switched with his son due to a mild groin strain and again the action was switching ends, a fantastic cross plucked out of the air by Dan Marcus followed by a rolling save from Jason Smith to deny Darren Hicks. [Wanderers went 2-1 ahead]

10 minutes later though the Gunners were reduced to 10 men. Harry Evans came off the pitch with a foot injury and with no subs on the bench, they had to make do. For the last 15 minutes it was all about defence. 10 man Gunners just would not let up but at the same time, the wanderers back row held solid keeping the scoreline there and taking the win. Mark Mavers, described as “Absolutely Solid ” by the referee (who in the interests of impartiality had awarded the penalty AGAINST him) took Man Of The Match for keeping the back line in order and killing off the attacks at crucial stages.

As to the league itself, The Wanderers have won 7 of the 8 matches played making it 21 points to 3 with 7 games and 21 points available. A win next week will make the Wanderers League Champions, a draw could see both teams on 22 points at seasons end. That’s how it stands in the Smallest League in the World.

Beckford withdraws transfer request

Jermaine Beckford has withdrawn his transfer request and has informed doubting Leeds fans that he gives 100 per cent every time he puts on the shirt: Beckford

Whether this is the end of the wobble at Leeds remains to be seen, but there has clearly been some unhappiness in the camp, possibly not assisted by the tactful interventions of Ken Bates. As one perceptive Addick fan commented, Leeds fans are a bit like Spurs fans. They expect constant success and the moment something goes wrong they start to turn on the team.

BTW, sorry that we don't have a match report from the weekly clash on the Scillies yesterday. Radio Scilly sports show host Merryn Smith was supposed to send us one but instead took a deckchair down to the beach near his home. Jammy so-and-so. He is training hard for the London Marathon, though, and in due course I will give details of the charity he is supporting.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Blaze Nearly Quenched

Reading results off the table is a risk in any sport. Top team Coventry Blaze verus bottom club Hull Stingrays might have seemed like a home banker. Possibly tired by a 5-4 win in Hull last night, an early Coventry lead was snuffed out by two goals for the visitors down to lax defending. It was 2-2 at the end of the first period and 3-3 at the end of the second before Blaze scored two goals in quick succession in the third to secure the points with a 5-3 win.

For the third Sunday in a row there were no fights whereas a friend saw four at a game in Canada last night. However, entertainment was provided by the 'dancing queen' among the small but fanatical group of Hull supporters.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A three way race

The competition for the automatic promotion places was looking more like a three-way race after Leeds lost 2-0 at Exeter, Norwich repaid their start of the season humiliation with a 5-0 win at Colchester and Charlton unseated the Chairboys to win 2-1 at Adams Park.

Having located my ticket tout, Vern, I joined the Addickted inside the Dreams stand. We were well represented and must have made up around a quarter of the crwod.

Wycombe threatened down the wing in the early phase of the match, but their inaccuracy let them down when they failed to convert three chances, one of them a one-on-one with Elliot. Charlton then took their chance well when Shelvey made use of a cut back from Lloyd Sam and put the ball inside the far post from 15 yards out.

The pitch was rather small and box like in shape and it was also very slippery. Mooney had a half chance to put the Addicks 2-0 ahead but his shot lacked enough power. The Chairboys were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position, but their effort came off the wall. One of the things I liked about Charlton's play in the first half was the way in which Bailey was putting in long and accurate balls across the pitch to Sam who was tormenting the opposition.

Half time: Chairboys 0, Addicks 1

Wycombe looked more lively when they came out after the break and put Charlton under some pressure. As in the first half, a worrying feature was the space given to their wingers who often popped up unmarked.

The inaccuracy of Wycombe's shooting is emphasised by the fact that they had three shots on target to Charlton's seven. Eventually, however, their work down the wings paid off and Jon-Paul Pittman made use of a low cross from Stuart Green to level the score.

Parky responded by taking offf Mooney and bring on Dickson, followed two minutes later by the replacement of Omozusi with Richardson returning from injury. On 74 minutes Burton was taken off and replaced by McKenzie. On 77 minutes Bailey pounced on a loose ball after his shot had come out to make it 2-1.

The referee somehow five minutes of time to add on at the end of the game, but Charlton were able to withstand the pressure and end their run of draws.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Nicky Bailey not just for the winning goal, but also for a captain's game in which he defended when needed and made sure he talked to the other players about what was going right and wrong. Elliot was exposed for the goal and couldn't do much about it and apart from one ball high up in the air, he was calm and in control. Good to see before the game that he and Randolph can banter with each other. Basey was one of our weakest players and the reason that Wycombe found so much space down the right. He also picked up an avoidable yellow card, the only one of the match. Omozusi has been all right as a fill in, but it's good to see Richardson back. Dailly had an excellent game, his quality showed, and he received a personal hug from Parky at the end. Llera looked like an accident waiting to happen, he was often poorly positioned. Semedo received repeated chants from the Addickted and was calm and confident. Shelvey had a good game, showing both determination and skill. The Bloke Beside Me complained about Sam complaining that all his trickery and the players he got round produced no end product. There is something in that, but he was a real threat to the opposition and is more talented than the level he is playing at. Burton had rather a quiet game and it is not suprrising that the two goals came from midfield. Mooney gets a good mark for effort, but never really came close to scoring. Dickson put in one weak shot after he came on and then had a chance to create a one-on-one towards the end of the game, but hesitated after he had burst through. Richardson looked the quality player he is when he came on. McKenzie was described by the Bloke Beside Me as 'all huff and puff' and he made little impact.

Hiss of the Match This goes to the Wycombe floodlights which offered a strange combination of glare and ineffectiveness. As the mist rolled in from the beech woods, it became increasingly difficult to follow the game at the other end of the pitch.

Crowd rating Some rousing choruses of Valley Floyd Road but relatively subdued. 6/10.

Key players safe from predators

There has been no interest in key Charlton players such as Lloyd Sam, Nicky Bailey and Jonjo Shelvey, confirms Phil Parkinson: Transfers

Fans will be relieved to hear this news which means it looks as if we can face the second part of the season with an intact squad. The transfer market has been subdued and of little help to financially troubled clubs such as 'Pay up Pompey' looking to raise funds from a fire sale.

Elsewhere, Alan Curbishley has indicated that he will not be interested in joining the crazy managerial merry go round at Queen's Park Rangers. Sometimes I wonder if Curbs will ever manage again, but I doubt whether he is on the bread line.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Reading results off the table

When we were in the Premiership we went one spring to an away game at Norwich. The Canaries were bottom and were eventually relegated. We were lower mid-table as I recall. I though the game was evenly matched and a draw would have been a fair result but in the second half former Addick Matt Svensson scored the winner. I thought we had given a reasonable account of ourselves but when I got home there was a torrent of complaint from Addicks, and not just from the usual suspects. How could we lose to 'bottom club' Norwich? One of the things you shoild never do in football is read results off the table.

Wycombe are in the relegation places, but achieved a surprising away draw against Leeds last week. When we played them in the first match of the season it was evident that they had battling qualities and didn't give up easily.

Their fans are fanatical in a curious way. I saw Rushden and Diamonds play them at Nene Park in League 2 and the referee got fed up with the abuse of their then manager Lawrie Sanchez and sent him to the stands. This wasn't much help as the stands behind the dugout are quite shallow and Sanchez continued to jump up and down and shout abuse despite half hearted attempts by stewards to restrain him.

The assembled Wycombe fans took great exception to this and stayed in their stand after the game chanting 'Chairboys'. By the time we were halfway up the hill away from the ground they were still at it. Quite what point they were making to the empty fields around them was far from clear, although their own stadium also gives them an agricultural view.

A friend of mine who has lived in various parts of England before returning to his native health (Essex) took the view that High Wycombe was the least friendly placed he had lived in. It's a curious mixture. The furniture industry has now disappeared and the factories have been replaced by flats for commuters to London (there is one factory in Princes Risborough). It is the home to one of the most expensive and most successful girls schools in England (Wycombe Abbey).

It will be good to see Christian Dailly back in defence. Richardson is available, but may not be fully fit. Indeed a general question is how march sharp the Charlton side are, given that they have not played a match for three weeks and training must have been constrained by the weather.

One boost is the signing up of David Mooney for a further 28 days, although not for the whole season as had been hoped. Back from injury, he will be able to team up in an effective partnership with Deon Burton.

I will be at the game tomorrow. I would like to drive back up the M40 with three points: my great fear is of yet another draw and if pressed I would go for 2-2, but I think a repeat of the 3-2 win at The Valley could be achieved.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Adams Park snowed in

There has been a heavy snowfall in Beechy Bucks and the following announcement has appeared on the Chairboys website:

'The club would like to advise supporters that conditions around Adams Park have become dangerous due to the recent fall of snow. We strongly advise that you do not try to reach the ground today on foot or by car.'

'Club staff will still be receiving telephone calls and emails and please keep checking for the latest news on road and pitch conditions ahead of Saturday's home game against Charlton Athletic.'

'Thank you for your patience and understanding in these testing times.'

Those who have been to the ground (as I did when we beat Arsenal in the women's league cup final) will know that it is up a steep-sided valley with one road in which goes through an industrial estate. Paid car parks are available along this road, but the problem is getting out afterwards.

One option is to park on nearby residential roads, but these are very steep. Whilst a rapid thaw is forecast and that, combined with undersoil heating beneath the pitch, should enable the game to go ahead, access may be a challenge.

No money to bring in players

Charlton can only afford to bring in or consolidate loans during the transfer window, there is no money to sign players: Cash

We have effectively known this for some time. Perhaps the real challenge, as assistant boss Tim Breacker has pointed out, is to hang on to our existing players: Stars

I think that we will see a relatively subdued transfer market in which valuations will often be below what clubs expect. Certainly, any club hoping to solve financial problems by selling players may have a nasty shock. Hopefully, we can retain our existing squad with the loan signings and this should at least give us a chance of promotion.

If we don't succeed, then the better players will have to be sold in the summer when it might be possible to get a better price. The alternative would be administration, but a 10 point penalty would inhibit any promotion push.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Addicks deny Tomlin interest

Lee Tomlin

Normally reliable sources are denying claims that Charlton have shown interest in Rushden and Diamonds left winger and former Leicester City Academy player Lee Tomlin. The Addicks could do with strengthening on the left wing. While the experiment with Luke Holden did not work out, Conference teams are often near League 2 standard. The 21-year old has scored 11 times already this season and is expected to move up to a league club in the transfer window.

One of the problems is that Rushden manager Justin Edinburgh is putting too high a valuation on the player, stimulated by interest from the likes of Coventry, Newcastle and, er, Walsall. There has even been speculation that he would like to break the Conference transfer record of £260,000, but it seems that the cash strapped manager would settle for a smaller six figure sum. The only concrete interest seems to have come from nearby Peterborough where it is thought that Tomlin could link up with super signing Izale McLeod.

During the Curbishley era, links with the Irthlingborough club (then in the Football League) were quite strong through player loans and special reserve team matches. However, the financial wheels came off at Nene Park and Rushden have had to settle for Conference survival, although they may make the play offs this year.

Faulty equipment

Sunday night's curious incidents at the Skydome deserve further reflection as they have implications for the discussion about inept officials in both football and ice hockey. Given that there are only eight teams in the Elite League, there is also a limited roster of officials, although it is not quite the Isles of Scilly football league where the same official faces the same two teams every week.

This particular referee strikes me as a professional fusspot, a phenomenon not unknown in football. Admittedly, the quality of the ice at Coventry has been criticised, but he is fond of getting the rink staff (most of whom look as if they are off a youth employment scheme) on to conduct running repairs while he halts the game. This mostly consists of some rather apathetic shovelling.

On Sunday, a Blaze player (Robinson) collided with a Viper. I do not think there was malicious intent, but simply a loss of control at speed. However, the upshot was that the Viper got a nose bleed. The sight of blood on the ice had some strange effect on the referee. Having already given hand signals to the timekeeper for two minutes in the sin bin, he stormed over, increased the penalty to five minutes and sent the player off. Red cards are unusual in hockey and usually follow a particularly nasty fight.

Needless to say, the Coventry bench were not pleased and it is possible that assistant coach and Hockey Locker manager Luc Chabot said something in French that was not the word invented by Quebeckers for a heavy snowfall. The next thing we saw was a far from happy referee off the ice and in among the Coventry bench. It looked as if it all might kick off not on the ice but off it.

The situation was clearly escalating and next we saw the referee going down the tunnel. This has now been officially explained as 'equipment failure' and while it is quite possible that the referee had a dodgy skate or helmet, this was really a case of a failure in his mental equipment.

The linos (who have a much greater role in hockey than their football counterparts) were nonplussed but when the referee did not re-emerge decided to carry on and Coventry scored two goals. (Remember that in hockey there are goal judges behind each goal, something which football seemingly can't afford). The moral of this is that getting good officials seems to be difficult in all sports (I don't follow egg chasing but I understand there have been some recent problesm there) and it is far from clear what the answer is.

With Coventry the No.1 hockey team in the UK, attendances are building well at the Skydome, but the 2,500 or so there are eclipsed by the 4,500 at Nottingham where there is a superior rink and a long tradition of quality hockey.

The absence of a hockey team in London remains a matter of concern. Indeed, after the Basingstoke Bisons went down to the EPL at the end of last season, there is no team south of Coventry. The nearest team to Charlton seems to be minor league outfit Gillingham Invicta.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Mooney in for rest of season?

Unconfirmed reports are suggesting that David Mooney has joined Charlton on loan for the rest of the season. Certainly, talks with Reading have been taking place.

Before his injury, many of the Addickted had been impressed by Mooney's work rate and his eye for goal. He also formed a good partnership with Deon Burton.

Izale McLeod's departure for Peterborough has been confirmed, but his first destination will not be the East of England cathedral city but a training camp in Teneriffe which sounds a better deal than going north of the border. And, who knows, the kilt he was measured for may yet come in handy.

Of the other strikers, Leon McKenzie could be used as an attacking left-winger in my view. Chris Dickson will serve as injury cover and someone who can be brought on as a substitute. Tamer Tuna has gone off for work experience with the Staines massive.

7-6 win for the Gunners

Garrison Gunners have won the Foredeck Cup with a 7-6 aggregate victory over the Woolpack Wanderers. Radio Scilly sports show host Merryn Smith sent this exclusive report from Hugh Town, St.Mary's: 'Wanderers had a helluva match this morning, looking to overcome a 6-2 deficit, it was 4-1 on the day going into the last 15 minutes and after that it was relentless....but to no avail. Gunners took the Foredeck cup 7-6 on aggregate.'

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Blaze Get Back on Track

A frozen ground is exactly what you want in ice hockey and the ice at the Skydome looked in good shape as we took our seats rinkside tonight, making use of our new half season tickets for the first time.

Unfortunately, Blaze made a lacklustre start, making a series of defensive errors allowing the visiting Newcastle Vipers to go 2-0 ahead in the first period. Casual play even nearly led to an own goal. This did not look like the team who recently became the first to score 800 goals on their home ice in the Elite League.

Home fans were enraged in the second period when the referee gave Robinson a five minutes plus game penalty for alleged use of the elbow giving the Vipers a 5 on 3. But it was the referee himself who headed down the tunnel minutes later to derisive jeers from the home fans. The game continued with two linos and Blaze scored two goals in quick succession to make it 2-2. Towards the end of the period the referee reappeared to a chorus of boos.

Blaze looked the sharpest in the third period and made it 3-2. Vipers then took off their net minder in one last throw of the dice, allowing Blaze to break and put the puck in the empty net in the dying seconds of the game to make it 4-2.

Norwich to sell off ground?

One possible solution to Norwich's financial problems is to sell off Carrow Road to creditor Axa and lease it back, but the plan has divided Canaries fans: Norwich

The plan has divided Norwich fans. It would probably attract an even stronger reaction at The Valley, although probably the training ground would go first if there was an urgent need for fans. Some directors at Charlton were going to buy and lease back Sparrows Lane before the £7m cash injection was arranged.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Norwich face financial black hole

As we have suggested before, Norwich have major financial problems, possibly even bigger ones than we have: Canaries

I have never bought into the media narrative that Norwich are invincible and certain to occupy the second automatic promotion place. It seems a bit early in the season to decide that.

However, Canaries fans are no doubt relieved that manager Paul Lambert has turned down the offer of the vacancy at Premiership club Burnley.

No one thinks very much about Colchester in this equation, but King's Hill Addick makes the point that they have some money to spend and have retained the services of Super Kevin Lisbie. They also have a very good manager, someone I would have been happy to see at The Valley. It's a matter for concern that if we are in the play offs we will have to face either Colchester or Norwich and possibly Southampton as well.

The weather seems to have been bad in Norfolk and the airport runway at Norwich international airport (I once had the misfortune to land there) had to be cleared of snow yesterday, but it appears that today's game there is going to go ahead, along with that at league leaders Leeds.

My boss (a Leeds fan) contributes the following: 'On the radio yesterday, someone was reminiscing about the big freeze of 1963 when undersoil heating was virtually unheard of. One week Norwich had the bright idea of hiring a few military flame throwers to melt the snow covering the Carrow Road pitch. Their next game was cancelled because the pitch was water-logged.'

Friday, 8 January 2010

One game on

With Leamington's home game tomorrow called off, one game that should be on is the second leg of the Foredeck Cup at the Garrison Field on St.Mary's Isles of Scilly. Garrison Gunners acquired a four goal lead in the first leg, giving them a chance to acquire some silverware. At the halfway point, the league looks increasingly out of reach with the Woolpack Wanderers having won six out of seven matches. Darren Hicks is top scorer in the league with 13 goals, at least one in every match.

The captain of the Garrison Gunners broke his ankle in the Boxing Day fixture so Andrew Hicks is now in charge and was interviewed by Merryn on this week's Radio Scilly sports show. Turns out that he is a Gooner which is appropriate given the name of the team. Although he has a traditional Scillonian name, the boat builder's mother hailed from London.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Parky denies exit rumours

Phil Parkinson has denied links with the managerial vacancy at Reading: Parky

There have been those who have wanted him from out the day he was appointed and argued that 2nd for most of the season wasn't good enough, that too many matches were drawn etc. etc. They should be careful what they wish for.

However, the fact that he is at least in the frame for Reading suggests that he is not as tactically inept, a hopeless motivator or generally clueless as his critics claim.

It's a posh ending for McLeod

For weeks it seemed as if Izale McLeod was heading north of the border, the Hearts manager having been impressed by his clan membership. But the Hearts owner was less impressed. McLeod had already been measured for his kilt when the deal fell through. Actually, dress sense doesn't seem to be the striker's strong point as he was reported to be wearing an odd Russian scarf/hat combo at Sparrows Lane today.

But all's well that ends well because it looks as if McLeod is going to help out in the relegation struggle at Peterborough: McLeod

Game off

As expected, Saturday's game against Hartlepool has been called off. Given weather forecasts, next week's game in beechy Bucks is also in doubt.

At least the ice hockey isn't affected! Getting season tickets there was a good idea.

One that got away?

An interesting story here about former Addick Neil McCafferty in which he talks about his time at Charlton: McCafferty

This was of particular interest to me as when he was on loan at Rushden and Diamonds (then a league club) I went across to watch him at Nene Park. He was kind enough to talk to us (and other Midlands Addicks) in the bar afterwards and he came across to me as a personable and intelligent young man who hadn't had the best of luck at Charlton.

Ikeme joins Super Hoops

Former Addicks loan keeper Carl Ikeme has joined QPR on loan from Wolves. It is his third loan spell of the season, having earlier been at Sheffield United.

The latest in a long line of QPR managers (including Dowie) Paul Hart told Sky Sports News that he would provide competition for QPR's regular No.1 Radek Cerny after Rhys Taylor returned to Chelsea following a loan spell at Loftus Road. Hart is reported to be happy to have landed a keeper of Ikeme's quality and expects his new signing to challenge Cerny for a first-team spot.

Ikeme was not rated very highly by Addicks fans, this was partly because of his role in the defeat at Carlisle, but also because the Addickted tend to have an inbuilt preference for products of the Charlton Academy. However, it is evident that, for whatever reason, Parky does not rate Randolph.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Doubts about Saturday's game

See official site: Match

We want to avoid another last minute cancellation. Given the prospects of quite a long period of cold weather, we may be facing substantial fixture disruption which could affect the promotion race. Certainly we face losing momentum and match fitness and sharpness, although that applies to other teams as well.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Real Charlton?

Royal patronage for a royal club

Now that Greenwich has been awarded the status of a royal borough, will it be Real Charlton? A well-known Addick living in the States has commented, 'Only if they join Major League Soccer and become faux Spanish ... like Real Salt Lake! Nothing Re-AL about that!'

But if he (the bloke on the right) came in return for changing the name, would it be worth it?

Arsenal was reputedly the team of choice of the Queen Mother. Despite his visit to Sparrows Lane, Prince William favours Villa. Reading, of course, lay claim to be 'the Royals' as they are in the royal county of Berkshire.

Read more about the honour here: Greenwich

If it is back dated, I can now claim to be of royal birth! :-)

Defensive worries at Hartlepool

Injuries and suspensions have caused defensive concerns at Hartlepool ahead of Saturday's match at The Valley: Monkeys

It was panic stations in the Midlands today as a few flakes of snow followed by some sleet fell with employers declaring 'extreme weather' emergencies and allowing workers to go home early. Il capo cancelled my trip to Firenze because of the weather conditions in Britain.

There are some dire weather warnings for the south-east, but I consider that the Met Office often over egg the pudding to deal with the 'What hurricane' problem? We can do without the postponement of a winnable home match.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Cup shock

Action from the Garrison Field

Leeds beating Manchester United at Old Trafford was the overwheming surprise in the third round of the FA Cup. There was also a shock result on the Isles of Scilly where Woolpack Wanderers have lost only one game in the two team league this year. Garrison Gunners won 6-2 in the first leg of the Foredeck cup. 2 goals from Eddie Williams, 2 from Andy Hicks and 2 Phil Greenlaw. The Wanderers' goals came through an own goal from Mark Blyth and one from Jack Stone. 1-1 at half time with the Gunners kicking against the wind - and do they have real wind on the Garrison Field which is on a plateau above the metropolis of Hugh Town on St.Mary's.

The second leg will be played on a forthcoming Sunday at the Garrison Field.

The official Fifa video about football on the islands (quite well made) is here:

The Radio Scilly sports show will start again this Friday from 5 to 6, but with station chief Keri away on holiday for a month, No.2 and green army fanatic Steve Watt has ruled out any Charlton content - despite the discovery of Charlton connections on the island of Tresco.

Mooto2 is back

The Scottish Saltaire was flying at the training ground today and it was shortbread biscuits all round as prodigal son Moutaoukil arrived back at Sparrows Lane from his loan spell at Motherwell. It poses a dilemma for Parky who does not rate the attitude of the right back whom many Addicks fans like.

We have just heard that Omozusi's loan has been extended to the end of January (which means we won't be signing him), plus Chris Solly is fit again. So, once Richardson gets fit, we could have four right backs. However, Mouto2's agent is likely to be looking for a new berth for him.

Beckford on his way

It seems increasingly likely that Jermaine Beckford will leave Leeds for Newcastle, provided a fee can be agreed for the player who is out of contract in the summer. Leeds will then lose a player of near Premiership quality, so they may falter a little in the second half of the season, but not enough for us to catch them.

I was amused to hear Leeds fans describing Beckford on 606 as 'not a Leeds player'. Given that they got him for £45,000 and his goals-to-games ratio, this seems to be rather surprising. Their complaint was that 'he did not track back', but I would be quite happy to have a striker of his calibre even if he didn't help out in defence (anyway it means you have an outlet when breaking).

Even more amusing was to hear Manchester United fans demanding that Fergie be sacked, while the shell shocked supremo was complaining that the five minutes of time added on did not meet the requirements of 'Fergie time' (which has been shown to be a statistical reality).

Over at Palace, the manager and players haven't been paid again, but Warnock is not blaming the Orange One. However, a fire sale of players seems likely:

Sunday, 3 January 2010

7-1 wipeout

Coventry Blaze beat rival top team Belfast Giants 7-1 in front of the Sky TV cameras tonight. As the 17 fans who had made the trip from Ireland looked increasingly glum, Blaze supporters sang 'Oh I do like to be in the Skydome when the Blaze go skating in', their mood enhanced by the news that Edinburgh Capitals were beating Nottingham Panthers, eventually by 5-1. Hapless Giants net minder Stephen Murphy was replaced by Nathan Craze, but to no avail.

There were no fights and the greatest surprise was that charm merchant Sean McMorrow did not receive a single penalty minute to the 250 he has already spent in the sin bin this season.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Norwich edge ahead

Norwich went ahead in the 77th minute at Wycombe after a game in which possession had been evenly shared, but the Canaries had more shots on target.

This was the final score so Norwich will edge ahead of Charlton in the table on goal difference. The Addicks now have to play a rearranged game when the Bescot has thawed out. The way things are going it won't be available for Norwich on 12 January.

Suddenly, the Saddlers have a significant role to play in the promotion race. The Pools Panel gave a home win to Walsall. Sky Sports News forecast that Leeds and Norwich would go up, with Charlton a strong 3rd and Saints a dark horse.

Elsewhere, supposedly invincible Colchester lost 7-0 to Preston in the FA Cup.

Match off

The braziers have failed to work again and today's match at the Bescot is off according to Walsall's site. Hope no one got too far up the M1.

When you enter their site the way it is laid out makes you think there is a special sale of Walsall players at £17.99 each instead of some tat.

I think this would have been a difficult match for us on frozen ground. I know the conditions are the same for both sides, but they would have helped the home side more.

I can now go and buy a Coventry Blaze half year season ticket. Come on you Blaze! Giants tomorrow, let's turn them into pygmies again.

Another pitch inspection at 12 noon

There will be another inspection at the Bescot at 12 noon, but the referee is confident the game can go ahead. He wants a bit more work done by the Saddlers ground staff, braziers in new positions etc. He thinks that rising temperatures as the day goes on will also help: cloud cover is increasing in the Midlands.

There may be quite heavy snow showers later in the day.

I am concerned about injuries in this game. In trying to avoid another draw, defeat is a real possibility, but as other bloggers have observed, this is a difficult match to call which could go one of three ways.

It must have been quite a New Year in Erith as Paul May is indisposed and I can't get to the game because of other commitments. We will provide a summary report.

Walsall pitch inspection

This will be at 9.30 a.m. There has been a sharp frost in the Midlands over night, but Walsall will be keen to get the game on after two postponements. No doubt they have their braziers out. I wouldn't mind a postponement in the hope that we get Youga and Richardson back.

If the game does go ahead, with the good Mooney-Burton partnership broken, we could revert to 4-5-1 with Shelvey in the hole.

So, farewell then, Luke Holden

Luke Holden has returned to Rhyl, having only appeared for Charlton in the paint drying trophy. He is keen to try for another Football League Club, but the gap between the Welsh League and the Football League is a susbtantial one. He was not the answer to our left-sided midfielder problem.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Walsall match in doubt

Sunrise on the first day of 2010 in Hugh Town, St.Mary's, Isles of Scilly. The Scillies were the warmest place in Britain (11 degrees centigrade) yesterday. In the Midlands it dawned cold and very frosty. Courtesy Radio Scilly.

There will be an early morning pitch inspection, but tomorrow's match between Walsall and Charlton is very much in doubt: Frost

Hearts owner asks: do we need McLeod?

Once again it seems that Izale McLeod's fitting for his kilt and sporran may have been premature. Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov has questioned the need to bring Izale McLeod and Steven MacLean to the club: 'I do not see anything except publicity for those players. Maybe Csaba Laszlo decided they needed a PR manager. I am not convinced we need them,' he said.

But Hearts manager Laszlo, who admits he was attracted by McLeod's Scottish surname, said of the strike duo: 'They don't need a PR manager if you look at their CV. If you look at the table, we have played 18 games and scored 21 goals. That shows where we have problems.' He may find he continues to have them.

Elsewhere, Newcastle's interest in Jermain Beckford seems to be firming up, while Middlesbrough are said to be ready to make a £3m bid for Leeds striker Robert Snodgrass.